Bible Study Guides – The Call of Ancient Israel to the Service of God

January 8, 2006 – January 14, 2006

Key Text

“Ye [are] my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Isaiah 43:10.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 63–73; Prophets and Kings, 367–378.


“God called Israel, and blessed and exalted them, not that by obedience to His law they alone might receive His favor and become the exclusive recipients of His blessings, but in order to reveal Himself through them to all the inhabitants of the earth. It was for the accomplishment of this very purpose that He commanded them to keep themselves distinct from the idolatrous nations around them. . . .

“But God did not intend that His people, in self-righteous exclusiveness, should shut themselves away from the world, so that they could have no influence upon it.

“Like their Master, the followers of Christ in every age were to be the light of the world.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 369.

1 Before God created the earth, what provision was made so that His purpose for man should not fail? 11 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:4.

note: “The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of ‘the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal.’ Romans 16:25, R. V. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God’s throne. From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency.” The Desire of Ages, 22.

2 Whom did Adam and Eve obey instead of the Creator? Genesis 3:1–6. Having thus yielded, into what condition did they fall? 11 Peter 2:19, last part. How much did man lose by the fall? Romans 5:12; Genesis 3:17, 18.

note: “Not only man but the earth had by sin come under the power of the wicked one, and was to be restored by the plan of redemption. At his creation Adam was placed in dominion over the earth. But by yielding to temptation, he was brought under the power of Satan. [11 Peter 2:19 quoted.] When man became Satan’s captive, the dominion which he held, passed to his conqueror. Thus Satan became ‘the god of this world.’ 11 Corinthians 4:4. He had usurped that dominion over the earth which had been originally given to Adam. . . .

“Adam, in his innocence, had enjoyed open communion with his Maker; but sin brought separation between God and man, and the atonement of Christ alone could span the abyss and make possible the communication of blessing or salvation from heaven to earth. Man was still cut off from direct approach to his Creator, but God would communicate with him through Christ and angels.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 67.

3 Because of Adam’s transgression, what conditions developed among men before the Flood? Genesis 6:5–7. How had those who were loyal to God acknowledged His supreme power during these years? Genesis 4:3, 4.

note: “The sin of the antediluvians was in perverting that which in itself was lawful. They corrupted God’s gifts by using them to minister to their selfish desires. The indulgence of appetite and base passion made their imaginations altogether corrupt. The antediluvians were slaves of Satan, led and controlled by him (MS 24, 1891).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1090.

“They [Cain and Abel] knew that in these offerings they were to express faith in the Saviour whom the offerings typified, and at the same time to acknowledge their total dependence on Him for pardon; and they knew that by thus conforming to the divine plan for their redemption, they were giving proof of their obedience to the will of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 71.

4 After the Flood, what acknowledgment did Noah make of God’s saving and keeping power? Genesis 8:20.

note: “In the joy of their release Noah did not forget Him by whose gracious care they had been preserved. His first act after leaving the ark was to build an altar and offer from every kind of clean beast and fowl a sacrifice, thus manifesting his gratitude to God for deliverance and his faith in Christ, the great sacrifice. This offering was pleasing to the Lord; and a blessing resulted, not only to the patriarch and his family, but to all who should live upon the earth. . . . Here was a lesson for all succeeding generations. Noah had come forth upon a desolate earth, but before preparing a house for himself he built an altar to God. His stock of cattle was small, and had been preserved at great expense; yet he cheerfully gave a part to the Lord as an acknowledgment that all was His.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 105, 106.

5 As men again departed from God, and forgot their Maker, what call was made to Abram? In calling him, what purpose did God have in mind for the world? Genesis 12:1–5. What evidences do we have that Abraham fully acknowledged God’s love and power, and His ownership of all things? Genesis 12:8; 14:17–20.

note: “God called Abraham, and prospered and honored him; and the patriarch’s fidelity was a light to the people in all the countries of his sojourn. Abraham did not shut himself away from the people around him. He maintained friendly relations with the kings of the surrounding nations, by some of whom he was treated with great respect; and his integrity and unselfishness, his valor and benevolence, were representing the character of God. In Mesopotamia, in Canaan, in Egypt, and even to the inhabitants of Sodom, the God of heaven was revealed through His representative.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 368.

“The tithing system did not originate with the Hebrews. From the earliest times the Lord claimed a tithe as His, and this claim was recognized and honored. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God.” Ibid., 525.

6 What experience came to Jacob on his journey to Haran? What act of worship did he perform? What pledge did he make to God? Genesis 28:10–22.

note: “Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and a wanderer, promised the Lord, ‘Of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.’ Genesis 28:22.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 525.

“Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and penniless wanderer, lay down at night, solitary and alone, with a rock for his pillow, and there promised the Lord: ‘Of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.’ [Genesis 28:22.] God does not compel men to give. All that they give must be voluntary. He will not have His treasury replenished with unwilling offerings.

“The Lord designed to bring man into close relationship with Himself and into sympathy and love with his fellow men by placing upon him responsibilities in deeds that would counteract selfishness and strengthen his love for God and man. The plan of system in benevolence God designed for the good of man, who is inclined to be selfish and to close his heart to generous deeds.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 393.

“Our business or calling is a part of God’s great plan, and, so long as it is conducted in accordance with His will, He Himself is responsible for the results. ‘Laborers together with God’ (1 Corinthians 3:9), our part is faithful compliance with His directions. Thus there is no place for anxious care. Diligence, fidelity, caretaking, thrift, and discretion are called for. Every faculty is to be exercised to its highest capacity. But the dependence will be, not on the successful outcome of our efforts, but on the promise of God. . . .

“He who gives men power to get wealth has with the gift bound up an obligation. Of all that we acquire He claims a specified portion. The tithe is the Lord’s.” Education, 138.

7 For what purpose did God call Israel and set them in Palestine at the crossroads of the nations? Isaiah 43:10–12; 44:8.

note: “Often the Israelites seemed unable or unwilling to understand God’s purpose for the heathen. Yet it was this very purpose that had made them a separate people and had established them as an independent nation among the nations of the earth. Abraham, their father, to whom the covenant promise was first given, had been called to go forth from his kindred, to the regions beyond, that he might be a light bearer to the heathen. Although the promise to him included a posterity as numerous as the sand by the sea, yet it was for no selfish purpose that he was to become the founder of a great nation in the land of Canaan. God’s covenant with him embraced all the nations of earth.” Prophets and Kings, 367, 368.

8 In order that Israel might truly represent God, what must they do? What did God promise to do for them? Deuteronomy 26:17–19.

note: “To this people were committed the oracles of God. They were hedged about by the precepts of His law, the everlasting principles of truth, justice, and purity. Obedience to these principles was to be their protection, for it would save them from destroying themselves by sinful practices. And as the tower in the vineyard, God placed in the midst of the land His holy temple.

“Christ was their instructor. As He had been with them in the wilderness, so He was still to be their teacher and guide.” Prophets and Kings, 18.

“God desired to make of His people Israel a praise and a glory. Every spiritual advantage was given them. God withheld from them nothing favorable to the formation of character that would make them representatives of Himself.

“Their obedience to the laws of God would make them marvels of prosperity before the nations of the world. He who could give them wisdom and skill in all cunning work would continue to be their teacher and would ennoble and elevate them through obedience to His laws. If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations and would be blessed with vigor of intellect. The glory of God, His majesty and power, were to be revealed in all their prosperity. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes. God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 221, 222.

9 In what respect was Israel to be a separate and distinct people? Exodus 33:16.

note: “How frequently ancient Israel rebelled, and how often they were visited with judgments, and thousands slain, because they would not heed the commands of God who had chosen them! The Israel of God in these last days are in constant danger of mingling with the world and losing all signs of being the chosen people of God. Read again Titus 2:13–15. We are here brought down to the last days, when God is purifying unto Himself a peculiar people. Shall we provoke Him as did ancient Israel? Shall we bring His wrath upon us by departing from Him and mingling with the world, and following the abominations of the nations around us?

“The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself; this consecration to God and separation from the world is plainly and positively enjoined in both the Old and the New Testament. There is a wall of separation which the Lord Himself has established between the things of the world and the things He has chosen out of the world and sanctified unto Himself. The calling and character of God’s people are peculiar, their prospects are peculiar, and these peculiarities distinguish them from all other people.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 283.

10 What was to be Israel’s relation to the nations about them? Why? Deuteronomy 7:2–4.

note: “God called Israel, and blessed and exalted them, not that by obedience to His law they alone might receive His favor and become the exclusive recipients of His blessings, but in order to reveal Himself through them to all the inhabitants of the earth. It was for the accomplishment of this very purpose that He commanded them to keep themselves distinct from the idolatrous nations around them.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 369.

11 How were the Lord’s people to relate themselves to the strangers who came and dwelt among them? Exodus 12:44–49; 20:10; Leviticus 19:34.

note: “God had made provision that all who would renounce heathenism, and connect themselves with Israel, should share the blessings of the covenant. They were included under the term, ‘the stranger that sojourneth among you’ [Leviticus 18:26], and with few exceptions this class were to enjoy equal favors and privileges with Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 507.

12 If Israel had followed God’s plan in relating themselves to the stranger and to the idolatrous nations, what would have been their relation to God? Exodus 19:5, 6.

note: “If obedient to His requirements, they were to be placed far in advance of other peoples in wisdom and understanding; but this supremacy was to be reached and maintained only in order that through them the purpose of God for ‘all nations of the earth’ might be fulfilled.” Prophets and Kings, 368, 369.